Options available for paying taxes

Published 10:48 am Saturday, August 28, 2010

Anyone who owes a portion of the $1.7 million in delinquent taxes to Southampton County has options.

The county is willing to make arrangements for a property owner to pay off their debt.

The county is looking to collect the $1.7 million in unpaid real estate and personal property taxes. The state gives counties legal options to collect the money.

Counties can deny someone from registering their vehicle or getting a driver’s license if they owe taxes. The county also can place tax liens on property owners and garnish wages and bank accounts.

We’re sure the county would rather not exercise any of those options, but if people don’t pay, the county may not have a choice.

Southampton County Treasurer David Britt said the $1.7 million owed is the most in his 20 years as county treasurer. About 75 percent of it is tax bills from the last two years.

Britt blames the economy, foreclosures and the county’s high unemployment rate — 11.5 percent in June — as the primary reasons for the high number of tax delinquencies.

Taxes are levied by the county, which provides services to residents. A county pays for the courts, public safety, road maintenance, social services, elections and more. Without collecting the budgeted tax dollars, it makes it difficult for a county to do its job.

We’re sure that Britt understands that people can hit hard times. It’s better, however, to make a call and make arrangements to pay. Ignoring a tax bill won’t make it go away.